Digital Illustration Using Sketchbook Pro | Jeff Mitchell | Skillshare

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Digital Illustration Using Sketchbook Pro

teacher avatar Jeff Mitchell, Illustrator + Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. 101: The Basics

    • 3. 102: Your Tools

    • 4. 103: Fun With Brushes

    • 5. 104: What Are Layers?

    • 6. 105: Sketch It Up

    • 7. Add "Inks"

    • 8. Add Color

    • 9. OMG Save Now!

    • 10. Homework

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About This Class

I don't teach on Skillshare anymore. Their shifting policies don't promote creativity. Follow me on Instagram @BaddestShirt or visit for more.

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Jeff Mitchell

Illustrator + Designer


I don't teach on Skillshare anymore. Their shifting policies don't promote creativity. Follow me on Instagram @DiligentManiac or visit for more.

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1. Introduction: Oh, hi there. It's Jeff from about a shirt Co. I hope you're all doing well. About a Shirko is an online design in apparel shop based out of ST Thomas, Ontario. You can find more information online at baddest shirt dot com and sign up for a newsletter for discounts, giveaways and new class announcements. I'm an illustrator and designer with over 10 years in the industry. I've worked in both print and digital on everything from website designed to newspaper production to comprehensive branding packages for businesses of all sizes. Now I'm taking some of the stuff I've learned over the years and passing it on through classes like this. This class is all about learning the basics of auto desk, sketchbook, sketchbook or sketchbook pro, as it's also known. Isa raster graphics application built toe let users draw digitally. It was originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation out of Toronto before being acquired by auto desk in 2005. It's been around in one form or another for quite some time. If you aren't familiar with Autodesk, there Ah, software company with their hands and dozens of industries, but most notably known for their flagship software Auto cat auto CAD three CAD standing for computer aided design is drafting software that's been around since the early eighties. The long the short of all this being that sketchbook is in the hands of a company that understands this field very well. And it shows Sketchbook is robust, yet easy to use piece of software that should be a part of any digital artists toolkit. The assignment for this class is very straightforward. You'll be using everything you learned in the following videos to create an original illustration from start to finish. I'll cover the details of your homework at the end of the class. Until then, I hope you guys have fun with these tutorials, so let's get at it. 2. 101: The Basics: Now we got to make sure we've got all of our bases covered here. The things you're going to need. First and foremost, you're going to need some kind of drawing tablet. I'm using the Microsoft Surface Pro three, which is a hybrid tablet slash laptop but a desktop PC with a tablet peripheral, bold work just as well, if not better, depending on your personal preference. Sketchbook is also available for Android and Apple devices like phones and tablets. This class is specifically geared towards the desktop version of the APP, but you'll find many of the basic principles carry over. You're also gonna heat, and I'm not sure why this even needs to be said, but you're also going to need to download the sketchbook application and install it. If you haven't done this yet, pause this video and head over to sketchbook dot com. To download your copy, you may need to tweak a few of your system settings before and during your first run through of the APP, especially if you're new to digital illustration in general, and to take advantage of the pro features of the APP. You'll also want to create an auto desk account. Sketchbook had previously worked on an annual subscription model, but they've recently changed their pricing structure, making the app free for all general users. Other than that, you're pretty much good to go. Let's launch the APP and take a look at the interface. The first thing you'll notice after opening the application is how relatively sparse it is , especially in comparison to other illustration drafting or design software. The main app window is your workspace, and this area houses all of the other components will be using. We'll take a moment here to go over each component so that we're all on the same page and using the same terminology. At the top of your main window is the menu bar. Nothing crazy going on here. This is old hat. Anyone who's ever used a computer ever beneath the mini bar is the toolbar. The toolbar is a quick access widget for the most common functions tools and windows. On our left, we've got the brush palette. This is where you'll access brushes, customized brush sets and create new brushes from scratch. If you look at the right hand side of the toolbar, you'll see that this window has a quick toggle to turn it on and off. On the right, we can see our layer editor, color editor in Kopek Library, all accessible through the toolbar as well and finally nestled in the bottom left hand corner of our screen. We have our lagoon and pucks. I won't elaborate too much on the lagoon. Once we cover the other components of the APP, this area will make a lot more sense. For now. Just know that it's a quick access menu of sorts designed to improve workflow while working with the stylist. The two widgets above the lagoon are what Autodesk refers to as the color and brush pucks. The color puck acts like a quick access to the color editor and allows you to tweak saturation and luminous on the fly. The brush puck lets you adjust the size and capacity of your brush stroke. Like the lagoon, these widgets are here to improve workflow while drawing with a digital pen and like the other windows in the APP, can be moved pretty much anywhere within the workspace or turned off entirely. 3. 102: Your Tools: Let's review the basic tools at your disposal. We'll be here all day if we try to cover each and every item in the menu. So I'm gonna cover the key functions and where they can be found up. First is the file tab taking out that this is where you'll come to create a new project, Open an existing file and save your current progress. Next is the edit Time Pretty standard stuff here. This is where you'll find your basic copy and paste commands, but function wise, there's really not much going on here. The only items of no are the stylist response of this Menu and Preferences menu, which you'll want to explore to customize the app to your liking. The Preferences menu is where you can adjust settings like default canvas size. You can access app, hot keys, customize your lagoon and, if you, you know, accidentally mess something up. This is also where you can reset specific settings to their factory defaults. The image tab is actually pretty useful. This is where you'll be able to change canvas size and resolution on the fly, adjust color settings and flip and rotate images and layers and outside of the crop in symmetry tools here, which are accessible from the toolbar. The other tools here are only available by accessing this menu your window tab tacos, all of your windows on and off, which is great if you like working with minimal distractions. If you really want to maximize your workspace, you can also click on the small note at the top left hand side of your lagoon. A small radio menu will pop up, allowing you to change the complexity of the user interface the my account have on your menu bar. It's a whole lot of useless, other than signing in and out of your account, which you won't need to do every time you log in. This time really doesn't serve much purpose. There's an account management link, but since Sketchbook Pro went free, it really doesn't do anything. A blast is the help menu, and it's a help menu. So let's move on to the toolbar. I'm gonna show you a bunch of these tools in action as we continue through the class. For now, let's just go over each of them briefly, so you have a basic idea of how they function first up at the far left on the toolbar is our undo and redo functions. We have our zoom and rotate tool. If you access this from the toolbar, you'll get a floating menu widget to control the tool. But if you have a touch sensitive tablet similar to the one I'm using the surface pro, you can use your fingers to manipulate the canvas directly. The selected de select tools allow you to select specific portions of your image using boxes, ovals, lassos and magic wands. After selecting an area of your project, you can crop your image to this area. Using the crop tool. Next up are are transformed. Tools built of these tools. The transforming, the quick transform are both designed to help you scale and distort your images in slightly different ways and play around with a small portion of an image using your select tools or manipulate an entire layer in one go. Anyone familiar with any art centric app from M s paint to CorelDraw to Adobe Creative Suite is familiar with the next tool. Flood fill allows you to fill in closed areas of your work with instant color very handy when working on your color flats. The text layer tool should be fairly self explanatory, so we'll move on to rulers and curves. If you're looking for precise lines and curves, this is where you go. The 1st 2 tools are a standard straight edge and oval curve. The third tool is a fancy French curve. For all your fancy French curve needs. Adjust the size and positions of these rulers. Select your brush and draw away your brushes locked in on the rulers edge until you turn off the tool up. Next, we have perspective guides in the fan favorite symmetry tool. I'll be using both of these tools and talking more about them in the sample project. The steady and predictive stroke tools are great for smoothing out shaky line work or getting more precise natural curves. If you're into calligraphy, these could be pretty fun to play with. We are gonna be using them for this particular class, but feel free to play around and see if you can make them work for your assignment. Our last tool is the draw style, which some folks might know better as objects. This tool lets you draw lines, squares, ovals and Poly Lines. The last four items on the toolbar are the quick access toggles for common windows we discussed previously. 4. 103: Fun With Brushes: Okay, let's have some fun with brushes. No. One of the best features of sketchbook is the brush palette. A little intimidating at first. It's actually very easy to use. Once you understand the basic components of the window, the majority of the brush pilot is taken up with brushes. When you open sketch book for the first time, you'll be met with the default brush palette, which is useful but obviously very generic. Depending on your art style, you'll want to customize the brushes to suit your tastes. You can organize each brush in the palate by clicking and holding on the brushy. Want to move? Then just drag the brush to its new location. If you select a brush and then click on the icon in the top left of the brush palette window, you'll open the brush properties for that particular brush. From here, you can change the properties of each brush in your library. Some brushes don't offer much in the way of customization, maybe only offering size and opacity options. Other brushes, however, can offer an overwhelming number of settings free to tweet. Assuming the default brushes don't appeal to you, you're going to want to replace them with other brushes from the brush library or with downloaded artist brushes from sketchbook dot com. If you click the icon at the top right of the brush palette, you'll open the brush library. Simply drag a new brush from your library over to the brush palette and you're done. I'm gonna talk more about this in a future class, but you also have the ability to create your own brush from scratch in your brush library. Select a set and you'll see a dot in circle appear in the top right corner. Click and hold this icon to bring up another floating widget menu. Hover over new brush to start building your custom brush. Don't worry about messing anything up with your brushes. Now is actually the best time to screw around with this particular part of the program. Get used to the available settings. Try editing a brush or creating one of your own. When you're comfortable with this window and want a fresh start, you can actually reset your palate and library through the preferences menu in the edit tab . I'd also strongly recommend checking out the artist's brush sets you can download directly from the APP. In your menu open windows sketchbook extras. You'll get a window featuring dozens of brush and texture sets you can download for free. 5. 104: What Are Layers?: some of you might be asking, What are layers and why are they important? Your layer editor is by far one of the most valuable tools in the APP. If you're not familiar with layers or how they work, Adobe has a great analogy. They use when explaining photoshopped layers. So think of it like this. Imagine each layer as a sheet of transparent acetate. You can draw on one sheet and then add another transparent sheet on top and continue working. Still able to view the content beneath your current layer. You can also take any sheet and move it up and down in the stack, even alter the transparency of each sheet. Hopefully, that gives you an idea of how this window works. I'll give you a practical example of how useful it can be to when I'm working on an illustration that requires variations. I can design a base illustration that can be added to an altered by using layers. Instead of spending hours redrawing something over and over again, I can use layers to minimize repetitive actions. Layers are also gonna play a big role in our class assignment, so it's a good idea to become familiar with this window. Your LAYER editor has a few distinct areas. Let's take a quick look at each of them at the top of the editor, you should be able to see five icons from left to right. They are add layer. Add group at image clear and layer menu. Beneath these five icons are your blending mode, drop down menu and a small square with a number of it. Clicking in this small square and dragging up or down will change the opacity of a selected layer. You can also change the opacity on each layer directly by selecting the layer and dragging the blue bar up and down beneath the layer editor menu. We have our actual layers. When you start a new project, you should only see two layers here. Your background, which is just a edita ble color and one blank layer. Something that isn't immediately evident is that each layer also has a sub menu you can access by clicking and holding over the dotted circle. The floating menu will allow you to add, delete, merge, duplicate lock and or hide a selected layer. A lot of these functions are available by talking other buttons in this window, but this pop up wrangles the useful stuff together. Lastly, if you want to reorder your project, just click on the top right hand corner. The up and down facing triangles, Icon of the layer. You want to move and then move it. There you'll see a blue line indicating where the layers being moved, and that's all there is to it. 6. 105: Sketch It Up: Now we get to put all of this into action. We're going to start a new project, Select File New from the Menu Bar. You can create your project at any size you want, but for the purposes of getting comfortable with the app, we're gonna change the size of the canvas. So we're all working with something similar. Select image Image size in the menu bar. This should bring up an image size dialog box changer dimensions to 11 inches by 11 inches . And make sure your pixels per inch are set to 300 and then click OK. The project we're working on is going to require some distinct layers, so let's go ahead and set these up. Now we'll start with our default layer. We're gonna open up our layer menu and select rename layer. This default layer is going to be our sketching layer, so we'll just name it sketch and hit OK to confirm next, we're gonna add two more layers by clicking the plus icon in the top left corner of the later editor. Rename your second layer colors and rename your third layer inks from the top down. You should have inks, colors sketch and background, part of our illustrations going to be based on a photograph. So let's import our image into a new layer. Click the image icon at the top of your layer editor and find the image you want to use. Once you hit the open button, the image will be imported into a new layer. You'll see why in a moment. But for now, we want to move this image layer beneath all of our other layers, except for the background. Grab the move icon on your layer and drag it down to the bottom. We're gonna be tracing over this layer, so we want to be able to see it. But if we leave it at full opacity, the darker areas of the image you're gonna be distracting as we draw, grab the blue opacity bar on this layer and drag it down until the images just barely visible. Generally speaking, I think keeping the opacity of your image somewhere between 15 and 25% works pretty well. Now. I don't want to spend too long on this, but I think whenever the topic of tracing comes up in some kind of disclaimer, first of all, Let's deal with the myth that tracing is a universally reviled practice. It is not. It's a tool that professional artists in various industries used to do their job used in the right way. There's nothing you should feel guilty about that being said. Here are a few basic rules to follow when tracing. Never trace another artist's work in that same vein. Never trace a photograph you didn't take. Some might argue with me on this one, and I will admit that there are definitely exceptions to this rule. But if you want to be safe, try toe only trace photos that you yourself have taken or, at the very least, that you have the express rights to use and never rely on tracing. It's a tool in your toolbox, like anything else. Use it sparingly or find creative ways to use it. But don't treat it like an art form. Okay, back to our project. We need to find the basic shape of our illustration. I'm gonna grab my pencil brush over here and start sketching over our image. I already have black selected as my color, and I'm going to stick with that. Some folks like to sketch with a blue pencil. You know, whatever your preference, you can just click on the color puck down here to bring up your color wheel. Select the color you want and you're all set in terms of sketching. We don't need to be precise at this stage, so let's just get a quick rough drawing down. For now, we're looking to get the basic shapes and lines here. Not much more. If you're drawing a person toddling, the image layer on and off throughout the process can help you identify areas that need work. I'm just gonna go ahead and finish sketching over this image, right? - We don't need our source image anymore. I'm going to click on the eyeball on the image layer to toggle it off. I want a fancy up this design a little bit before I move on to thinking the image, I'm going to use the straight edge ruler tool to create a horizon line behind my subject. By selecting the nodes at either end of the ruler, I can adjust the angle. You'll notice a small pop up at the bottom of your workspace that indicates the particular degree of the angle. I want a straight horizontal line, so I'm going to adjust these nodes. So I'm sitting at zero degrees. I'll draw my line. Whenever you have an active ruler, all of your lines will be constricted to the edge of the ruler. Turn off my ruler and hop over to the symmetry tool. There are a few different options here. I want to create a frame around my subject. So I'm gonna turn on both the X and Y access symmetry. This tool is pretty awesome. It mirrors whatever you draw either vertically, horizontally or in up to 16 segments. And you can see the effect here as I'm sketching. Okay, we've got our frame. I'm gonna go back to my symmetry tool menu and de select the X axis so that my lines are only mirroring from left to right. And with symmetry still active, I'm gonna activate my perspective Guides. These guys are like your rulers, but they let you draw in 12 or three point perspective. You get the general idea here as I finish off my sketch 7. Add "Inks": it's time to polish this sketch up a bit. Now that our sketches complete, we have a basic framework for creating our final illustration. I'm gonna head back over to the layer editor and drop the opacity down to about 15 to 20%. I'll select the ANC's layer recreated toe work on going forward. I'm also gonna pick out a new brush. The pencil brush was great for the initial sketch, but now I want something a little thicker and something that offers more variation based on stylist pressure. I can already see here with my first couple lines that I need to adjust the thickness of my brush. If I click down over on my brush puck, I can adjust the size of my brush by dragging left or right. You'll want to play around with the brushes until you find something that you're comfortable working with. Great. I got my brush the way I want it, and I can start thinking my sketch. I'm going to speed this up a bit so you guys can see the entire process. - You'll notice. I'm regularly adding new layers above my ink layer. I do this so I can work on different sections of the illustration without accidentally affecting another area. Because I'm drawing directly on my tablet surface. Occasionally, my palm or pinky finger will interfere with my work, so working with multiple layers helps mitigate some of the frustration. Once I've traced over the parts of the sketch I want to use, I'll add some details and refine some of the lines to finish off the ANC's right . 8. Add Color: Let's add a few finishing touches. I'm going to select the colors layer beneath my inks and open my color editor if you're used to working with artist markers. Sketchbook also has the entire Copa Klein of colors available through the Kopek Library window. There are lots of different ways to work with color and sketchbook. Every artist has their own style, but I'm gonna show you a quick and easy way to use color that you can adapt or build on as you develop. The first thing we're going to do is drop down a layer of flats. These are the flat colors that make up our color scheme, and if you don't feel confident with, pick me out your own color scheme. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with sourcing your colors from other works. Find an illustration or photo that matches the general feel you're looking to achieve. Color wise, that is Ah, and sample those colors to create your own scheme. Start simple. Find 1/2 dozen colors that work well together and stick with those until you feel like branching out for my flats. I'm going to stick with fairly standard brushes. I don't wanna introduce texture just yet. How you approach the next two steps is really up to you. Basically, you're gonna add two more layers above your color layer. However, these should still be below your in Claire. The layer directly above your color flats will be your shadows and the layer above that will be your highlights. For your shadows, pick a dark pool color that complements your color scheme. Drop the opacity on this layer and start adding your shadows. Do the same thing with your highlights, but pick white or something similar. Instead of something right , you can see as I'm coloring, I'm going back and forth between several different brushes. You'll figure out which brushes work best for you as you use the app. Once you've finished coloring, you can either merger layers together or leave them apart. I like to leave them, as is in case I want to come back and edit the file later on. The last thing I want to do to finish this office center it. If you're not working with the keyboard, there's no way to select and move multiple layers at the same time. One work around I use is to place all of the layers that you want to move into a group and they can move that group and everything inside it moves all at the same time, and there we go. 9. OMG Save Now!: remember, save your work and save often. If you had known your computer was going to crash, you would have saved your work. But you didn't think it was gonna crash. So you didn't say that. And now it's gone, and you want to throw your computer across the room and run away to live with the circus. I'll give credit to auto desk here. From my own experience, the APP is pretty decent at restoring projects after, ah, a system error or a crash. I've definitely experienced a few brow wiping. Jolla clinched moments of panic as I reopened sketchbook after a shutdown. Most of the time, everything works out just fine, but not always save. Save again. Keep saving on. Go ahead, do yourself a huge solid and save that project one more time. Take a break after a good chunk of work and back up your project. It only takes a second, and it'll save you boatloads of grief down the line. Speaking of saving, let's show you how to actually save a working file and proof. I briefly pointed out how to save at the beginning of the class, but let's go into a bit more detail on how that works. Let's back up and save our work will assume for the first time. So from the at menu select file Save as you'll be given the chance to select your safe destination as well as the file format for your project, save your project as a PSD or tiff file. If you plan on revisiting the drawing at any point, saving is one of these formats will preserve your layers and project settings. These four months also benefit from cross compatibility with Adobe's photo shop and other designs. Software. If you're using a keyboard value draw, use the control s shortcut to quickly save without interrupting your workflow. As for saving a proof a flattened, Web ready image, he uses the same save as process as before. But this time, instead of selecting a PSD or TIFF, you're going to select a J Peg or a similarly flat file format. Name your file, click, save and select the highest quality for your export and that's it. We're all done 10. Homework: all right, I've got an assignment for you. It's time to take everything you've learned from this class and apply it to a new project. To complete this assignment, you'll need to create a new project document, get familiar with the interface, play around with the settings and create a workspace that suits your style. Experiment with brush settings. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try creating a new brush from scratch. You're gonna use layers to sketch ink and color and original illustration. If you're stuck for a subject, use my sample as inspiration and create a cartoon portrait of your own. And then save both a working file of your project as either a PSD or tiff and a high quality J peg proof. Once you've saved everything, use your exported J peg and post your work to the class so we can see your results. Now we've only scratched the surface of what sketchbook is capable of, so there's plenty more for you to discover on your own. Dive back in and have some fun with the APP. All have courses covering more advanced tools and features, including the Superfund to use flip book coming soon In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask, and I'm looking forward to seeing what all of you drop. Well, thanks for watching. And hopefully you found this class useful. I'll be back with a new class soon. Until then, check out baddest shirt dot com and sign up for our newsletter for updates on future classes and other fun stuff. I'm also on the instagrams and Twitter's at about a shirt, so drop on by and say, Hey!